By walking on water Jesus demonstrates to his disciples that he has power over nature! It causes his disciples to recognize that he is the Son of God and they spontaneously worship him. Peter’s attempt to walk out to Jesus reminds us that we’re only human, but that if we obey him and keep our eyes fixed on him as the Son of God then he will empower us to follow him.
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.”
– Hebrews 2b-3a (NIV)
Lesson Intro (Things that float)
Supplies: A tub/container of water and a selection of small things that float and sink.
Gather the kids around the tub of water and put your objects into the water one at a time, having the kids guess each time whether they think it will float or not. Then give each child a paper clip and let them see if they can get it to float. You can then surprize them by making a paperclip float, as demonstrated in this video:
Explain to the kids that a little science experiment can surprize us, but in the story that we’re looking at today Jesus did something that truly surprised his disciples and made them realize that he really was the Son of God. In fact, at the end of the story they bow down to worship him!
Tell the story from Matthew 4:22-32
Things that you may want to emphasize/explain along the way:
- “Fourth watch” (v. 25). This was between 3am and 6am.
- “Ghost” (v. 26). The disciples were probably thinking of an evil spirit.
- “It is I” (v. 27). Jesus words echoes the way God introduced himself to Moses at the burning bush as “I AM WHO I AM” (Ex. 3: 14).
- “You of little faith” (v. 31). Even though Peter sunk when he took his eyes off of Jesus, we shouldn’t be too hard on him . It would have taken immense courage to step out of the boat in the first place!
Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that might cause us to be afraid or might cause trouble for us in some way. The disciples must have felt like that when they were all on their own out on the water a long way from shore! Jesus was a lot closer to them in their trouble than what they thought. They weren’t really alone. It’s good for us to remember that even when things are tough, Jesus is close at hand.
The other thing is that the disciples knew that only God can do something like that! Seeing Jesus for who he is even gave Peter the courage to come out onto the water with him. Jesus wants each of you to know that he is the son of God and he wants you to put your faith in him. We put our faith in him by talking to him, following his teachings and loving others the way that he did!
Prayer: Thank Jesus that we can know that he is close, even in the most difficult times. Pray that at times when it feels like our lives are sinking, we would all put our faith in him as our Lord and that we would trust him as our saviour.
The review questions are helpful to stimulate conversation if you’re doing a small group activity like craft
- Why were the disciples in the boat?
- Why was Jesus not with them?
- What trouble did they face?
- How did Jesus come to them?
- What was their reaction when they saw Jesus?
- What can we learn from this story?
- Are there ever situations that make you afraid?
Game: Balancing stick
Supplies: A few broomstick handles or dowels
What to do: Demonstrate to the children that you can balance a broomstick handle vertically on your fingertip when you keep your eyes fixed on the tip of the stick. When you take your eyes off the top of the stick, then it becomes much harder. We’re going to play a game that reminds us that keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus helps us walk through difficult times in life!
How to play: Divide the kids into 2 teams and play a relay game where each of the kids has to walk a distance and back balancing the dowel on their fingertip. If the stick falls they have to start over. The first team to all complete walking back-and-forth with the dowel stick is the winner!
What to do: Prepare a bowl of blue Jello in advance (it takes a few hours to set). Print this sheet on card stock. Color in and cut out the characters. Tape a toothpick to the back of the Jesus cutout and the boat cutout for stability. Set the final scene by positioning the Jesus cutout and boat cutout on the surface of the Jello, and stick the Peter cutout into the Jello as though he’s sinking! Option b: print and color the second page of this craft, and use that to set the scene for Jesus and Peter (cut on the dotted lines to position the characters through the paper).
Download printable sheet and instructions here: Jesus-walk-on-water-craft
Featured Image Credit: Christ Rescuing Peter from Drowning, VENEZIANO (1370)